As the opening salvos of the heavy Russian guns thundered through the dawn, 17th Panzer Division lurched into motion, passing through and to the west of Apresski town on their way to the front.
|17th Panzer Division moving up|
There was nothing sophisticated about the Soviet assault: a broad frontal attack straight up the Apresski railway line. A reconnaissance the night before had indicated that both flanks of the German line were open, or at least occupied by nothing more than patrols. On the left flank, 139th Tank Brigade (T34) was to execute a left hook around the forest onto the German flank. On the right, 6th Guards Cavalry Brigade were to carry out the other wing of the planned double envelopment.
|The frontal attack begins early. At considerable cost.|
140th Tank Brigade punches through 35th Regiment:
141st (Heavy) Tank Brigade tries to widen the breach.
|'All in the Valley of Death rode the T34s...' The Quad AA|
is there just to make the German Div HQ look more ...erm ...
HQ-ish. I have ideas about that, though...
|The Russian Heavy Tank Brigade, reduced to remnants,|
(SP=0), pulls out of the line.
|The CavCorps light Tank Brigade has also lost most of its|
armour, and pulled back.
|139th Tank Brigade attacks 189th Infantry Regiment from the|
west, 17th Panzer are still distant.
|125th Infantry under attack front and left rear.|
|The pressure mounts against the German right....|
|Soviet 316 Rifle Division throws their weight against Hill 609.|
|47th Rifle division taking heavy casualties; 189th Infantry Rgt|
hangs on grimly.
A second narrative aside, here. Under the HEXBLITZ system a unit or formation reduced to 0 SP is not automatically destroyed. If it can retreat, it must do so at once one grid area, its 'mode' being changed to 'S' if previously 'D'; 'M' if previously 'S'. If it can not retreat it remains in situ, but if engaged again does get destroyed. So far, 35th and 155th German Regiments has suffered that fate, though in the case of the former, it was the following up T34s that sealed their doom. Vengeance against the 140th Tank Brigade was swift and equally thorough. On the other hand, the light and heavy Tank Brigades, both also reduced to 0 SP, were able to break off their attacks and pull back.
Upon reflection, I think this simple approach is best, as a problem will arise if testing formation by formation when we consider the 1-hex formations. Unless, of course the test is reserved for multi-hex formations...?
|139th Tank Brigade might be in trouble...|
|Hill 609 cleared, the cavalry follow up...|
|The Russians carry Height 605.|
222nd Infantry, 2 from 17th Panzer. The Russians had lost 20 SP. That ought to have meant both sides would abandon further attacks or aggressive moves; effectively bringing the action to a close. Having miscounted the latter's overall strength at 41 SP (instead of 39) permitted the latter to carry on with their assault.
|The Germans break off the counterattack and pull back.|
|Close of the action. The Soviet front line has been pushed some|
12 - 16 kilometres northward. The Germans still hold the town.
For all that, the result was satisfactory to neither side. The Soviets were still well short - 6 or 8 kilometres - of the town that had been their objective. The Germans had lost their main defence line. Still, the former still had three unengaged Rifle Divisions and the 8th Tank Corps available for a second attempt. 17th Panzer Division hadn't taken too much damage, and 544th Infantry Division moved up overnight to take up positions in and around Apresski. Neither side was done yet.